Ascendant ruler applying to trine Mars, with elaborate garb and suffumigations
What Celestial Petitions Are
A significant part of the tradition Scholastic Image Magic is based upon includes celestial petitions. These are not technically image magic, because talismans are usually not involved. Nor are they properly scholastic, because they go beyond the boundaries of natural magic and invoke spirits directly, albeit ones who govern aspects of the natural world. They are prominently featured in Picatrix, but belong to the tradition of theurgy going back to at least Iamblichus. The more unsavory variations of it can sometimes be classified as necromancy, by the medieval definitions of the term.
Nobody agrees what the nature of the spirits invoked are; some believe them to be angels, others djinn, others demons. Those informed by gnostic thought sometimes believe them to be archons. All agree that they are one of the principal origins of the legends of wish-granting spirits, such as in the story of Aladdin and the djinn. I believe them to be angels, in the sense that they are honorable servants of cosmic order; they are not always benevolent in action, but absolutely serve the greater good.
The celestial petition is a supplicatory appeal for aid in a sphere the hierarchy in question has authority over. The timing is elected, the petitional text is very formal in structure, the suffumigations are very complex, ritual postures are used, and ritualized garb or costume is required. Sacrifices were also traditionally made, though this is seldom practical today. Planetary dieting is of great benefit to petitions, in addition to regimens of meditation and abstinence preceding the ceremony.
Though the type of elections used in celestial petitions differ from those used in the creation of talismans, they have enough similarity that formalized petitional texts are often used in the process of talismanic creation (abbreviated versions may be used if the electional window is brief).
Making talismans is hard work, from the election to their initial usage. Petitions are harder. Active preparation for a petition can sometimes be longer than a week. That is why when I do petitions for clients I usually charge more. To my knowledge I am the only magician commercially offering celestial petitions in the manner described in Picatrix.
Asking a talisman for a wish is effective and can be done many times, but their function is usually passive. Asking powerful governors of large portions of the cosmos for a boon is more effective—if the ritual is performed correctly—and what is asked for is granted in a very active way. An imperfect talisman may work, sometimes with side effects. If sufficiently flawed, they may do nothing, or could even curse the user. However, an imperfect petition may insult the hierarchy and cause the magician’s prompt death. Petitions are high risk, and less forgiving of error.
For me, that makes it all the more exciting.
Electing A Petition to Mars
To elect a planetary petition, the planet of the hierarchy one is petitioning must be dignified and unafflicted in a way similar familiar to those who make planetary talismans, with some additional requirements and preferences as specified in Picatrix. The planet ruling the Ascendant must make a benevolent applying aspect to the petitioned planet. When possible, the Moon should also be dignified, unafflicted and forming a meaningful connection between the planet of the Ascendant and that of the petitioned planet. Ideally, none of the relevant planetary bodies will be cadent.
In the above election, the ruler of the Ascendant is the Moon, which simplifies a lot. The Ascendant and Moon are significators of the petitioner, and when they are in agreement the working is stronger; when they are the same body there are fewer factors to weigh.
The Moon is slow, but not prohibitively. When the Moon is slow but above twelve degrees of diurnal motion it is ideal for curses and malevolence, and so it is in harmony with at least part of the petition– it is of a destructive or disruptive nature. The Moon has some dignity within Pisces, being of the watery triplicity. The Moon exactly culminates while making a very tight applying trine with Mars. Mars is in domicile towards the end of Scorpio; he is not in the final two degrees of the Sign which could have been a problem. Mars is succedent in the 5th House. Mars is unfortunate in this House, but the other factors supersede this. Saturn is safely past opposition to the Ascendant, but is in the 6th House. The ruler of the Moon’s Sign is itself the Moon, so it cannot be cadent; the beginning will be fulfilled and the end will be fulfilled. The Ascendant ruler is less essentially dignified than the Descendant ruler, but much more accidentally dignified. The largest shortcoming of the election is that Mars neither has the Hour or Day of the election; but Picatrix does not require this.
This is not a perfect election for a petition, but a solidly good one.
The Petition to Mars
When you wish to ask Mars for something, and speak to him and honor him, put him in a good condition as we have said… Dress yourself in red garments, and put a red linen or silk cloth on your head as well as a red skullcap, and hang a sword from your neck, and arm yourself with all the weapons you can carry; and dress yourself in the manner of a soldier or a fighter, and put a bronze ring on your finger. Take a bronze thurible with burning charcoal, in which you should put the following suffumigation. –Picatrix
One of my clients asked for a boon which was of a Martial nature, and so I sought a petitional election. After months of searching, this is the best one I found, and so I got to work.
I already had a cylindrical red chef cap for ritual purposes. It was neither a skullcap nor linen nor silk, but fulfilled the conditions acceptably.
My thurible was iron, which is a suitable substitute as the metal of Mars.
I could not figure out how to hang my sword comfortably from my neck; it’s pretty heavy. Instead I found a pendant online in the shape of a winged sword, in steel—especially appropriate for Mars.
Similarly, I found a bronze ring in the shape of a crow’s skull. Crows are birds of Mars according to both Lilly and Agrippa.
I purchased military-style camouflage print pants in red, and wore a rather spectacular polyester shirt with a flame print.
Finally, I slung a black bowie knife and sheath on a cord about my neck, tucked my hunting rifle under one arm, and held my Smith & Wesson revolver in my right hand. Both were loaded.
I probably looked completely terrifying, which is exactly what you should go for when petitioning the cruel lord of violence and dread.
Take wormwood, aloes, squill, spurge, long pepper, and watercress in equal amounts. Grind them up and mix them with human blood. Make pills of this, which you may set aside for use. When you wish to begin working, put one of them into the thurible, which you have brought with you to a remote place specially set aside for this working. When you have arrived there, stand upright on your feet and speak secretly, boldly, and without any fear, facing the south… As the smoke rises, say the following. –Picatrix
I obtained all of the ingredients, but somehow misplaced the long pepper. Rather than make pills, I mixed the wormwood, aloe, squill, spurge and watercress in a cup and drizzled human blood over them.
At the appointed time, I stood facing south and somberly and loudly intoned the petitional text, rising in volume to a crescendo.
O Mars, you who are an honored lord and are hot and dry, mighty, weighty, firm of heart, spiller of blood and giver of illnesses thereto! You are strong, hardy, acute, daring, shining, agile, and the lord of battles, pains, miseries, wounds, prisons, sorrows, and mixed and separated things, who has no fear or contemplation of anything, sole helper in all your effects and in investigations thereof, strong in calculation and will to conquer and to seek after fortune, cause of lawsuits and battles, doer of evil to the weak and the strong, lover of the sons of battle, vindicator of wicked people and those who do evil in the world. I ask of you and conjure you by your names and your qualities that exist in heaven, and by your slayings, and also by your petitions to the Lord God who placed power and strength in you, gathering them in you and separating them from other planets that you might have strength and power, victory over all and great vigor… –Picatrix
I can’t tell you what the boon was for the client; it’s confidential, and knowledge of the specifics may interfere with their outcomes.
I will say that Mars provides boons in many areas other than violence and misfortune; and while his hierarchy is Malefic, they often do great good. Challenging injustice, obliteration of disease, removing obstacles to love and sex, surgery, alchemy, and vanquishing pestilence are all within the sphere of Mars’ influence.
Mars is a mighty ally and a terrible foe.